Author Topic: Thursday fulham Stuff - 05/11/20...  (Read 818 times)

Offline whitejc

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Thursday fulham Stuff - 05/11/20...
« on: November 04, 2020, 06:43:14 PM »
Premier League 2020/21: Fulham vs West Brom – Tactical Analysis

Both Fulham and West Brom came into this fixture without a single win this campaign, with only Sheffield United and Burnley holding worse records this season in the Premier League. Without much to separate the two sides, it was the smaller details that allowed Fulham to come away with a win and a clean sheet. Both sides, newly promoted from the EFL Championship, will be desperate to put a run of decent form together before the new year strikes, which will be hard for West Brom with games against Spurs and Manchester United coming up. In this tactical analysis, we will take a look at the major tactics applied by both sides that contributed to the end result.


Hosts Fulham lined up with a 4-2-3-1 formation which allowed their full-backs, Antonee Robinson and Ola Aina, to have a little more attacking freedom, thanks to the defensive protection provided by Mario Lemina and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa. Aleksandar Mitrovic led the line, with attacking support coming from Tom Cairney (centrally), and Ademola Lookman and Bobby Decordova-Reid (flanks). This particular attacking shape allowed Fulham to vary their attacks down either wing or through the middle.

West Brom deployed a 4-1-4-1 formation for the opening 70 minutes which saw Karlan Grant lead the line with wide support from Matheus Pereira and Grady Diangana. The midfield three of Jake Livermore, Conor Gallagher, and Filip Krovinovic (who was often the deepest of the three) looked to provide a balanced supply of defensive and offensive contribution. The vastly experienced Branislav Ivanovic lined up at the back alongside Semi Ajayi. For the final 20 minutes, the Baggies switched to a 4-4-2 shape in the hopes of finding a goal.

Fulham’s central success
As we touched upon in the introduction of this tactical analysis, Fulham had the option to explore attacks down either flank or centrally, thanks to their set-up. They saw the most success, in terms of xG, from attacking centrally, which gave Cairney, and sometimes one of the two wider attacking midfielders, to have a lot of creative influence over the game.

Here we see Fulham looking to attack through the middle.

In the analysis above, Lemina, the man on the ball, has absolutely no pressure applied on him by West Brom, allowing him to pick his next action fairly easily and carefully. Quite early in the game, Fulham sensed a weakness in West Brom’s lack of ability to defend in the central midfield area, and would often look to fizz passes through the midfield area, and put themselves in an attack vs defence situation. Lemina sees Decordova-Reid in an unmarked position in between the West Brom midfield and backline, in some potentially dangerous space. Gallagher and Krovinovic are the two Albion midfielders who seem clueless as to how to set up for this, with Livermore occupied elsewhere. The result allowed for Lemina to fire a pass between the two, straight into the feet of Decordova-Reid, who was allowed to control the ball on the half-turn and run at the West Brom defence. He then unleashed a long range shot, which turned out to be a poor decision after Fulham had just taken their opponent’s midfield out of the equation.

Fulham put together a good passing combination.

Just seconds later, Fulham were presented with another chance to play through the midfield zone, with the West Brom midfield simply looking lost. After gliding past Gallagher with the ball, Zambo Anguissa performed a smooth and fast one-two move with Tome Cairney, with the intention of once again getting in behind the West Brom midfield. As we can see below, this was a success. As mentioned, attacking through the middle was a strong area for the home side. Of their total 54 attacks, 13 of them happened centrally, with an xG of 0.83, significantly higher than their attacks down either flank.

Fulham put some good work together to score their first goal.

We can see, marked in the yellow-fade zone, Fulham just played their past the entire central midfield of West Brom, leaving the visitors with some monumental defending to do. From here, Zambo Anguissa displayed much more composure and awareness than Decordova-Reid did with the previous chance. Zambo Anguissa sidestepped a few yards, as left-back Robinson joined the equation – Lookman’s smart decoy run opened up the space for the former Wigan Athletic defender. Following this, Robinson’s perfect delivery was met by the head of Mitrovic, who smarts headed it into the path of Decordova-Reid, who headed home from close range, finishing off a very smart Fulham attack.

Pressing performance of both teams
The defensive problems for the Baggies stretch back to long before this fixture. After just seven league games, they’ve shipped 16 goals – the worst defensive record in the Premier League this season as it stands. We have already identified one issue they are having, that the midfield is too weak as a collective, making it easy to play through. Another issue that is visible is their pressing.

Fulham manage to work their way through a bad West Brom press.

The analysis above looks at the shape and application of a West Brom press, but this Fulham move actually resulted in a spectacular goal, due to the sloppy nature of the press. Number 34 for Fulham, Ola Aina, finds himself surrounded by four Albion players after successfully finding a pass down the wing to Decordova-Reid, and is now supplying support for the winger. As soon as he received the ball, the four highlighted West Brom players closed in to reduce the space, but in such a wasteful way. The main culprit of the four is Conor Townsend, the man directly pressing the Fulham man. His challenge was too slowly applied, allowing Decordova-Reid to threat a smart pass into Mitrovic, who left by West Brom in far too much space. The next part to break down is why it was wasteful and sloppy for West Brom to commit four players to this press.

Conor Gallagher, the Baggies player on the left shoulder of Aina, has absolutely no reason to be positioned there as he offers no real defensive benefit. Had he been positioned a little more centrally, nearer to the two arrow heads, for example, the goal would likely not have happened at all. Gallagher is not fully to blame for this space not being initially closed off, though – Jake Livermore is nowhere near the action. After the pass found Mitrovic, he executed a delicate first time set-back-pass to Aina, who unleashed a rocket into the top corner to give Fulham their second goal in three minutes.

Here we see Fulham press with high intensity late on.

As Fulham regained some control of possession in the later stages of the game, they opted to allow West Brom very little time to play out of defence when the visitors had the ball. This meant a number of Baggies players had to retreat to their own half to offer support and provide protection, leaving their attackers isolated when the inevitable long ball came. Mitrovic, despite not being the quickest, is one of the most aggressive and tenacious strikers in the Premier League, which comes in handy when pressing. Furthermore, having several teammates in West Brom’s deepest third made it very difficult for the visitors to maintain possession, never mind create goalscoring chances. Applying pressure in the fashion allowed Fulham to ultimately control the closing stages of the game, and ensure that they would take all three points on this occasion.

West Brom’s attempted fightback
This fixture, for a time, was not as one-sided as some may think. After conceding the second goal, we saw a combination of Fulham perhaps sitting back a little bit to preserve energy and a sense of spirit from West Brom. The baggies ended up dominating possession from the 31st minute, up until the 60th minute, and their attacks per minutes rates were at their highest in these time periods. Their issue lied within finding an end product to some good possession, partly down to good defending from Fulham, or poor decision making by West Brom individuals.

This analysis shows West Brom looking to get into Fulham’s area.

Often, West Brom’s preference was to attack the wide areas after some good possession around the centre as they looked to create openings out wide. They managed to do just that in this scenario. Townsend looks to play a first time pass into the path of Diangana, who found a dangerous space to exploit in the Fulham penalty area. Reaching this point of attack is not where Fulham had difficulty. They made 21 passes into the box during the game, with an accuracy rating of 48% – both of these numbers were higher than Fulham’s. 10 of their possessions reached the penalty area, so it is clear that they have some creativity and attacking quality in their ranks, and showed that dangerous, attacking football can be simple yet still effective. Despite this move being a good one from the visitors, the two highlighted Fulham players reacted quickly to apply pressure to Diangana, resulting in a corner.

West Brom commit more numbers forward to try and get into the game.

West Brom came out in the second half under the same intensity as they ended the first half. They showed no fear in holding possession deep into the Fulham half, allowing them to commit more players forward in supporting positions. Above is an example of this. Including the man on the ball, the Baggies have seven players forward to support this attack, with passing options located mainly centrally, but also on the far flank to stretch Fulham. Krovinovic’s pass into Pereira held good pace, allowing him to control it before winning his side a free kick in a very dangerous position.

As talked about, West Brom showed flashes of attacking quality, but only managed to record an xG rating of 0.80 through the whole match, from 10 total shots – just one on target. Their defensive issues remain a real problem, and will likely see them dragged into a relegation battle unless they rectify this. Instilling some more creativity and idea towards attacking solution will give them a real goal scoring boost for the season as well. As for Fulham, they need to put some strong form together after this victory. Their squad has areas that shine with quality – Mitrovic with his aggressive nature and his work rate certainly has its perks, and it looks like the midfield area for Fulham is working very cohesively. Fulham came into this game with a clear game plan, and managed to either control the game or stop West Brom from creating any clear cut chances, fully deserving the three points.

Offline whitejc

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Re: Thursday fulham Stuff - 05/11/20...
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2020, 06:44:16 PM »
‘He has been very positive’ - Aina lauds Parker’s impact on Fulham

The Nigeria international has reserved special accolades for the Cottagers boss in the wake of their victory over West Bromwich Albion on Monday

Ola Aina has hailed the impact of manager Scott Parker on Fulham after defeating West Bromwich Albion 2-0 on Monday night.

After a stuttering start to the 2020-21 English top-flight season that saw the Cottagers go on a run of six games without victory, they eventually got their act right together thanks to first-half strikes from Bobby Decordova-Reid and the Nigeria international.

The ‘massive’ result against Slaven Bilic’s men moved them away from the base of the English elite division log having garnered just four points from seven games.

According to Torino loanee Aina who scored his maiden Premier League goal in his 51st appearance, Fulham’s resurgence should be attributed to the 40-year-old’s influence on the team as he had stayed optimistic despite Fulham’s discouraging start.

“He has been great, keeping the belief within the camp and he always tells us that he believes in each and everyone of us, believes in our ability and what we can achieve,” Aina told Standard Sport.

“He has been very positive with us - where we lack, he lets us know, and where we do well, he lets us know. He is a very truthful guy and he has been great.”

The 24-year-old was part of the Blues’ three FA Youth Cup-winning sides and Uefa Youth League triumph, however, he was loaned to Hull City after failing to get regular action at Stamford Bridge.

After completing his spell with the Tigers, he was shipped to Serie A outfit Torino for another loan stint. His move was made permanent in a deal worth £8.9m (€10m) after he impressed during his one-year stay in Italy – making 32 appearances and scoring once.

n the 2019-20 season, he accounted for 37 appearances for the Bull, which included 32 matches in Serie A. However, he returned to England to join Fulham a day before their Premier League opening fixture against Arsenal.

He is expected to play a role as Parker’s men would be eyeing a victory against West Ham United at London Stadium on Saturday.

After the game, Aina will join Nigeria’s squad for next week’s double-header Africa Cup of Nations qualification matches against Sierra Leone.

Offline whitejc

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Re: Thursday fulham Stuff - 05/11/20...
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2020, 06:44:47 PM »
Ekoku lauds Fulham Aina's technique

Former Nigeria international Efan Ekoku has praised Ola Aina after the defender netted his first-ever goal in the English Premier League.

The 24-year-old scored a wonderful strike into the top corner to help Fulham secure a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Monday night.

West Brom had Aina’s Super Eagles teammate Semi Ajayi on the pitch in a match which was played at Craven Cottage.

Ekoku, who helped Nigeria clinch the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title, described the goal as an absolute beauty during the commentary.

“What a strike! On the end of a beautiful move, the best of the game from Fulham,” Ekoku was quoted as saying on All Nigeria Soccer.

“He’s actually involved with it so early on and to hit that, that is as brilliant as you are ever going to see a football being hit.”

Ekoku, who was born in Manchester, England to parents of Nigerian descent, played for Norwich City and AFC Bournemouth during his playing days.

Aina was deployed in the right-back position in what was his fourth appearance in the Premier League this season.

“Not great defending from West Brom, couple of Baggies players, Conor Gallagher in particular is ball watching as Aina comes inside,” the retired striker added.

“That’s a cracking hit, an absolute beauty, look at the technique, absolutely clean into the top corner”.

Aina is currently on loan at Fulham from Italian Serie A club Torino having joined the latter from English giants Chelsea.

He has played 17 international matches for Nigeria.

Offline whitejc

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Re: Thursday fulham Stuff - 05/11/20...
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2020, 06:46:19 PM »
“I had long chat with the manager” – Fulham player on chances of January exit, search for ‘big contract’

Stefan Johansen has seen Fulham climb to the Premier League on two occasions since he joined them from Celtic in 2016.

The midfielder’s first taste of top flight football in England came during the 2018/19 season, but his appearances were limited in the first half of that campaign.

He was then loaned out to West Bromwich Albion in January 2019 and regained his place at the Cottagers after they returned to the Championship last term.

Fulham are back in the Premier League this season, but the 29-year-old has been left out of the club’s list for the league.

Johansen, who had a chat with his manager Scott Parker, is disappointed at being left out for the league fixtures.

“I had a long chat with the manager (Parker). He explained the situation. It’s a choice he had to make. Everyone wants to play as much as possible, but now they picked up new players again and this time I became a victim of it. That’s what you have to swallow,” he told VG.

“It is clear that it is a small bang when you participate in two promotions and are not allowed to play more.

“Many new players are brought in, the coaches have different views, and that’s how football works. I ideally wish I could play everything, but I’m old enough to understand that it’s not just ups, but also downs in football.”

The Norway international has made two appearances in the EFL Cup this season and with Fulham knocked out of the competition, he will have to do without any minutes until the end of this calendar year.

Johansen will turn 30 years of age in January and if there’s no improvement in his situation, he will consider changing clubs in the winter market, keeping in mind both sporting and financial needs.

“I have received mixed signals. The manager thinks it was a very tough choice to make, and said he would make a new decision in January. You never know what’s going on. But personally, I have no doubt that I want to play matches,” the ex-Celtic man explained.

“So if there is a similar situation in January, then it is of course appropriate to leave. I almost have to take it when it comes. First, the body must return to 100 percent to be as ready as possible for one or the other.

“Considering the family, that I have a small child, two years left on the Fulham contract and will turn 30 in January, I think there will be one big contract. It will be quite important whether it is here or somewhere else.

“At that age and situation, you will know where to be for the next three or four years. We are very privileged that there is so much money in football, so I will not complain about that bit, but a football career is short. You have to weigh everything against everything, but the first and foremost is the wellbeing of the player and that applies for the family.”

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Re: Thursday fulham Stuff - 05/11/20...
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2020, 06:49:14 PM »
Ola Aina praises Fulham manager Scott Parker for 'always telling us that he believes in each and every one of us' after former Chelsea kid finally gave Premier League strugglers lift-off

    Ex-Chelsea starlet Ola Aina spoke of Fulham boss Scott Parker's positivity
    Aina scored a screamer against West Brom to seal their first Premier League win
    Fulham went six games without victory prior to the 2-0 win at Craven Cottage
    Aina came through the ranks at Chelsea before loan spells at Hull City and Torino

Ola Aina has praised Fulham manager Scott Parker for his impact on the Premier League strugglers.

It was Aina, a former Chelsea academy graduate, who finally gave Fulham lift-off when he scored a screamer against West Brom to seal his side's first Premier League win of the season, and he credits Parker with kick-starting the turnaround.

'He has been great, keeping the belief within the camp and he always tells us that he believes in each and every one of us, believes in our ability and what we can achieve,' he told the Evening Standard.

Ola Aina (centre) scored a screamer to put the gloss on Fulham's first win of the season

Aina credits Fulham boss Scott Parker with stopping the rot by instilling a positive attitude

'He has been very positive with us - where we lack, he lets us know, and where we do well, he lets us know.

'He is a very truthful guy and he has been great.'

Fulham had gone six games without victory prior to the 2-0 win at Craven Cottage, secured thanks to a header from Bobby Decordova-Reid and Aina's left-footed shot from distance - his first Premier League goal.

The Nigeria international admitted it was a relief for the hosts to climb out of the relegation zone with a crucial win at the seventh time of asking.

'It was massive,' he said. 'Everyone knows it has been a tough start to the season and to get the three points and the clean sheet, those things are very important.

Aina is on a season-long loan from Serie A side Torino after starting his career at Chelsea

'You have to work hard at that, keep training and putting in the effort. What we did last night, that needs to be the minimum. Hopefully, we can kick on from here and keep improving.'

Aina started his career at Fulham's west London neighbours Chelsea, where the full-back played a key role in back-to-back FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League titles.

But he left in search of greater first-team opportunities when he was loaned to Hull City and then Torino in Serie A, who made his spell permanent for £8.9million after a promising first season in Italy.

He returned to England when he joined Fulham on a season-long loan this summer and has started their last four Premier League games.

Offline whitejc

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Re: Thursday fulham Stuff - 05/11/20...
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2020, 06:51:09 PM »
No director direction: Analysing Fulham’s DoF role
Despite three points picked up on Monday night, longer term questions remain over our transfer policy, as Mike Forrest explains in his debut piece.

A transfer window that was going to be a platform for redemption turned into a pitfall trap that has dropped Fulham and Scott Parker into carnage. On the very night after securing a quick return to the Premier League there was rallying cries from Parker and management echoing the sentiment of mistakes and not repeating them, referring to the previous stint in the country’s most top division. Nine weeks later, and the same mistakes have been made.

No DoF direction
Fulham’s recruitment structure is an oddity among professional football. It is an oddity that has mutated out of failure. In the debut season of Mr. Khan’s ownership, the managerial revolving door is well documented, less so is the role of Alan Curbishley. This was Fulham’s first attempt at filling a Director of Football-type of role. Curbishley was appointed on 24 December 2013 as ‘First Team Technical Director’. His duties were to assist manager Rene Meulensteen with the first team and help on the recruitment front.

55 days and one transfer window later, Curbishley was dismissed. For such a role to last less than two months speaks more to the club’s lack of planning and strategy for such a position rather than a personal failure on Curbishley’s part. The following December, Mike Rigg was appointed in the role of ‘Chief Football Officer’. Rigg lasted two years in the role before being dismissed. Little success was seen under Rigg’s tenure. Poor signings as well as poor league performance culminated in an absolute palaver while trying to fill the vacant managerial role, with Mr. Khan having to personally step in and oversee the appointment of Jokanovic, paving the way for Rigg’s exit.

This second failed attempt at a DoF role (by any other name) was due to poor performance by Rigg. Third time lucky? After years of blundering recruitment, the club had a choice. They could revert to the traditional recruitment model led by the manager and a team of scouts or they could try again for the Director of Football role. They went for the latter option, and in February 2017 filled the role by appointing Mr Khan’s son, Tony.

Data-driven drivel
Tony’s first act as Director of Football Operations saw him promote Craig Kline, who had been hired by the Khans and with Fulham as their Director of Statistical Research since 2014, as his assistant. Together they developed a statistical model for identifying players for recruitment. At this stage statistics and numbers were no longer being derided in football and sports in general. It was widely accepted that they could offer a competitive edge, something exemplified by Brentford, and was no longer dismissed as an anorak’s hobby.

For data to be valuable there needs to be a skilled analyst modelling and interpreting the numbers. A competent Director of Football will then utilise a hybrid strategy of utilising both the numbers and scout reports. Unfortunately for Fulham, Khan and Kline’s (the latter no longer with the club) modelling techniques and interpretation of those numbers have been flawed. Since Khan took the role in 2017, there have been around 27 first team permanent signings, and around 23 first team loan signings. Only Aleksander Mitrovic has been a resounding success, and arguably this signing was due to Slavisa Jokanovic, even though Tony Khan disputed this on the Fulhamish Podcast in 2018.

His statistics-based recruitment has yet to see him unearth any undervalued gem, but plenty of expensive flops (Seri, Fonte, Fabri, Mawson & Knockaert to name just a few).

On a knife edge
Curbishley got 55 days, Rigg two years and Tony is now entering his fourth full season in an important role. During this time, there have been two promotions to the Premier League, but under his stewardship the club is potentially facing a second embarrassing relegation straight back down with the prospect of the team needing a complete rebuild yet again.

What learnings can the club take from these experiences? The major one is that finding a talented Director of Football is difficult. Men immersed in football for the duration of their professional careers, Curbishley and Rigg, failed in the role. Khan’s part-time approach doesn’t work, especially as there’s more to being a Director of Football than just recruitment. It’s about leadership, long-term vision, strategy, networking and so on – all attributes that Tony can’t give due to his other commitments. Khan did appoint Javier Pereira as his assistant, but his impact was seemingly minimal and only lasted six months.

What now?
The club has options. Tony Khan could take a step back and the club could seek out a new Director of Football. This runs the risk of Shahid Khan’s “generosity”, in terms of investment, dwindling given his son would no longer be involved. A potentially decent recruitment could be Stuart Webber from Norwich. He has had successes, and relegations it must be acknowledged, with both Huddersfield and Norwich on vastly smaller budgets than Fulham have had.

Another option, and more realistic, is that Tony stays and it is the head coach Scott Parker that pays the price for lackadaisical recruitment. This would fit the pattern as Shahid has previously sacked Jokanovic in a similar position. One would imagine that any decent manager willing to work for Fulham is a small pool in normal circumstances. That pool is presumably even smaller again if having to work under Tony Khan is a prerequisite where two consecutive head coaches have publicly bemoaned the recruitment process.

Whatever happens, if Fulham stay up or get relegated, if Parker gets sacked or not, the club’s recruitment and leadership needs close introspection from those within. The club can’t continue this cycle of haphazard recruitment, or the goal of transitioning from a yo-yo club to an established Premier League team will continue to be an expensive and elusive pursuit.

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Re: Thursday fulham Stuff - 05/11/20...
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2020, 11:00:51 PM »
A Different Type of Test Awaits.

Greetings my fellow Hammers! Holy Moly, such a crazy time, for only having around 23% ball possession against Liverpool, I think we played relatively well, agreeing with most, that Haller (who should start again)….. get the next 3 or 4 matches to prove he wants to be at West Ham, and can produce.

Some folks, are of the opinion that he already has half his arse out the door, and we should implement Benny asap, which, may be the best way, and I’m incorrect, I’m just saying if he can’t be a big part in us getting at least 8pts from our next 4 matches, of which, Aston Villa has me most concerned, however, I will probably say it again, even though last Saturday sucked, the spoiled rotten got their way, so we move on, for another Saturday is approaching, where, indeed, a different type of test awaits.

And let me just say the following statement is not directed at anyone, it’s directed at the mindset that gives managers and players a unusually short amount of time to acclimate.

COME ON Y’ALL, LETS BACK THE PLAYERS!, (like I said, I’m not speaking to the regulars who are here), even those who believe Haller is not gonna work out, cos you guys rarely knee jerk, I’ve actually read alot of good points to take the chance of putting Bowen and Benrahma together and watch them infuriate center backs wearing other kits!), I’m mostly speaking of the tweeters that David was speaking of, who were moaning because Sab didn’t score a brace in the first 10 minutes, or completely blamed Masuaku for the penalty, which, since I’ve engaged in some discussion, there’s a question of how legitimate that penalty was. I’ve now watched it 5 times and the more I watch, the more I think Salah should have got a yellow for simulation, but Masu didn’t help himself by looking right at the ref, and we’re at Anfield. Good luck getting a fair call in that situation.

However, now, it’s done and dusted, we move on to our first of two East vs West London Derby against Fulham seeing a return of Scott Parker, who was one of my favorite Hammers last decade, however he’s a pro, and as I said in a conversation yesterday and will be looking to notch an upset win his first time in “The London”.

Now, I remember, once upon a time, there was a thing called “patience” and “development” :-) Of course, some are better than others, some, like Antonio, can grow into any attacking position. However, with a guy like Haller, maybe a little more encouragement, and patience, are needed. (And at least one striker along side) It took Antonio 5 years and David Moyes, Alan Irvine and Kevin “Skipper” Nolan to become a solid CF, of course, he was a top quality right winger, and even held his own when Super Slav decided to slot him in at RFB. Now, like Hamburg said, Haller gets 3 or 4 matches, and if we aren’t at least on 16 points by the time we play Manchester United on the 5th of December, then, we must put Benny and Bowen up front. I’d really like to see 2 strikers if Antonio is not fit.

There are still 31 matches left, enough time for Haller and Antonio to develop into a good tandem, or Haller and Bowen, or Yarmolenko and Benrahma all are capable of playing CF/STR, and any number of combinations could work, perhaps for a team with 1 bone fide CF/STR, Moyes, Skip, and Irvine can create some decent strikers!!

That being said, Im still gonna hold out hope that Haller can be effective, and, perhaps with a strike partner, or even Bowen as a false 9, (unless Fulham parks the bus, then, perhaps a 3-4-3?) So long as Haller isn’t isolated, and, as Hamburg accurately pointed out, lost to the Reds mostly by Liverpool being “Liverpool” (lol! I loved it Hamburg!)

Poor sods…….. gee whiz, if only we could complain with sympathy from the FA, PL, PGMOL, other supporters, and pundits, and without ridicule and criticism about the calls and Non calls that seem to plague our matches from time to time or, with Pools’ general silly ass sense of entitlement and superiority, how they cry about losing more than 2 matches in one season, (regarding pundits, which, there are some good ones, and I must admit the ones that work for NBC here in the States all have their clubs they favor, but they report with relative objectivity, and give West Ham enough credit and respect when due).

As a matter of fact, all the Big Clubs moan like little babies about this and that, it almost has one asking “do they have a script written over the summer?!?!” Even though the match day experience is very different for everyone, I’m still thankful that we can watch our football, and especially our Hammers on the telly, (I know, it’s nothing like being there), or even if you feature being an “armchair hooligan” or have a group that gets together in the same pub every Saturday.

The main reason of course that I follow via television and social media, is due to being separated by 3546 miles and the world’s 2nd largest ocean, or for any other reason, when I watch on TV, it is still better when there are supporters there, still, sometimes the camera person will catch an amusing moment, and, the “telly mob” has extensive replay advantage. Once upon a time, I’d always tune into the “Tyne/Wear” Derby, even though the last one was 4 and 1/3 seasons ago, they were usually good for some handbags on the pitch AND in the terraces (as they are these days).

Mostly, I love when our AWAY ARMY who faithfully travel the whole of England to support the Irons, who can often be heard over the home crowd, winning losing or drawing, especially when during an away match, say, most recently, against Chelsea, (wimps) :-)) when we doubled up on them last season, our first win was in West London before the lockdown, first time we won at Stamford Bridge since 28/9/2002, (I’m pretty sure) and during the added time in the second half of that match, that rendition of “Bubbles” gave me goosebumps.

As I shift gears all bit, I should probably put in the disclaimer now that I don’t condone hooliganism in any form in modern days. However, I’d be lying if I said that when a I was younger, that I was pretty much your average wild child. I wasn’t evil, or looked for trouble that would immediately hurt others, however I did learn the hard way that vandalism is not a victimless crime, and “Banksy” I was not! :-)) however, if someone was acting the fool, I had absolutely no issue solving someone’s problems for them if they tried to make them mine. I took my beatings as well, but it was rare, and I usually ended up friends with most of the fellas I tangled with as a kid. I still like to rock, (it hurts a lot more now), :-)) but, Its kind of like the romanticism of the neighborhood gangs in the U.S. that existed primarily in the mid to the first half of the late 20th Century that, somewhat like the original firms of the 1960’s and ’70’s, had more to do with local pride, self defense from other roving mobs, and, almost a sport in and of itself, and in the case of football, team spirit, a street level _ Esprit de Corps_ , so to speak.

It wasn’t good or positive by any means, however, it originally didn’t have anything to do with drugs dealing, human trafficking, weapons sales or any of the hardcore activities that a lot of disreputable folks have engaged in since the 1990’s, (and some have used to buy football clubs with their ill gotten gains) ;-))

O.K., how this plays into this as I build to my main point, once again, morale and belief in each other, similar to that “final rumble” for the “vacant lot”….. our beloved Irons, have met the challenge of taking on 6 of the top 8 clubs in the first 7 matches of the campaign, and by standing tall, and never giving up, instead of being in the relegation zone with 1-3 points, were in 14th, with 8pts a plus 3 GD, 5 points off the bottom, (that is a concern, yes), however considering this seemingly new hate for West Ham United within the league as pantomime villains, some may disagree, and that’s ok, but I just see a lot of ignorance by some pundits, journalists, etc.

It was nice to have a bit of a laugh over that, cos NO ONE outside our belief and hope thought that we would throttle Wolves, and Leicester, in the Midlands, no less, and fight for a historic comeback against the reviled Spurs.. (God, it’s tough, one day I hate Chelsea the most, the next, Spurs, then, Leeds, Thursday it could be Wigan, then Liverpool or even Everton…..) :-)) And played solid matches against Man City and Liverpool, both matches that could have been won, however, I feel the lads gave their best, and had Antonio done what Salah did, it most likely wouldn’t have been a penalty. One point that I brought up after Spurs about the “acting” that 6’5" 230 pound men do, and Hamburg expanded on this week, if these gits are soooo good, why the Hell do they need to drop like they have been hit by a 155mm GP fragmentation round fired from an M-777 field howitzer when someone makes the slightest contact???

Yes, Mark Noble has a degree in the dark arts, however he doesn’t feature it like those mentioned below, and it’s in situations where it could be impeding his track to the goal, and closer to a legitimate penalty, but Kane, Alli, Sane, and Salah should be given yellow cards instead of sarcastic “diving scores” as if it were the Olympics, if VAR is to remain (which it looks like it will, unfortunately) then the refs need to use it properly, and not as another tool to stack the deck against the “smaller club”

O.k. now that I’ve touched on the match a bit, and some periphery that irritates us all, but we can do nothing about, we didn’t lose because of the penalty. I honestly don’t think the main reason we lost was cos of uber-cheating, we just didn’t have the offensive chutzpah that I must admit, Antonio does bring, however, a simple tweak in the formation that could play to Haller’s strengths, maybe he can have a career here, it’s really up to him, (he can score goals), it could make all the difference, and give Antonio some competition.

Now, we’ve weathered this hardcore first 1/5th of our schedule, we now have some clubs that has the “script” is saying that West Ham United should go on and rack up points. We would hope, anyway.

I wish there was a little less elitism, more parity, however it is what it is, the possible danger I see is our players taking their feet off the pedals that they have had to the floor to get through this difficult part of our schedule. I really hope that they look at Fulham, Sheffield, and Villa as important, for those may be the clubs we’ll need to double up on, however play with just enough respect to keep the defense tight.

That being said, for that very reason, I’m actually more nervous about the next few weeks, cos, were not in the scrap yet, however, if we don’t keep playing these clubs that are upcoming with the same urgency that has shown since matchweek #2 against Arsenal, we could be in trouble by Xmas.

However, I just can’t see it. Sure, Brighton and Sheffield will probably give issues, however if we play the way we have been? Even without Antonio? (who we probably won’t see til mid December for the Holiday Crunch). I didn’t talk to “Ex” or anything, I just get the feeling he may be rested until then. Probably won’t see him til Chelsea, Away, 19/12/2020

It so crazy, the reason we love him so much is what gets him injured twice a season. Still, I’ve been a fan since talks began in ’15, and, as they were going on (the negotiations) I did research, watched how he played at Forest, and I though “this kid is a Hammer, thru and thru”.

That being said, hopefully we can find similar success with Haller, Bowen can strike, or maybe Benny, he could be vicious, however, Haller deserves a fair shot to slot into this XI, as does Moyes deserve to be given the chance to hopefully adjust the formation to suit Haller, IF, we don’t win 4 on the trot, and go unbeaten in 5. Even though some say we’ve hit a soft spot in our schedule, this is the time that extra vigilance is needed, cos, in spite of the fact that the Overlords of English football want 6 clubs to occupy the top 6 spots, and have two of the other 5 who didn’t win the league, win the Cups, this is still the Premier League, anything can happen, and as I’ve said and the title suggests, I believe a different type of test awaits our Hammers as we enter into the pre Xmas crunch, a test that I believe will set the tone for the rest of the season, of which I’m relatively confident in our lads picking up some points in the next month, landing us closer to solid mid table.

I still think we can finish 8th, IF the goals keep coming from all over the pitch, and the defense keeps up the decent work. However if I was to bet, I’d say 12th just cos in spite of the quality we do have, were thin, and still have some issues that may make top 8 a bit ambitious.

I’d be interested to hear what everyone thinks our chances are to finish top half now that we’ve proven that we aren’t the “kickboys” that many, including fellow Hammers, thought we were gonna be. I’d also enjoy reading what everyone thinks the best course of action regarding tactics and strategy to take to ensure maximum points in the next 4 fixtures (I’m not afraid of Manchester United anymore). COME ON YOU IRONS!!! ‘><’

Love You All


Offline whitejc

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Re: Thursday fulham Stuff - 05/11/20...
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2020, 11:02:35 PM »
Fulham's Recent Upturn in Form Hints at Better Things to Come

On Monday 28 September, Fulham endured the second of three consecutive home league defeats in a 3-0 trouncing by Aston Villa. The loss prompted co-owner Tony Kahn to publicly apologise to Fulham fans for the performance.

Things were already looking bad. The Cottagers were being written off for relegation by pretty much everyone, despite the season being in its infancy.

Five weeks down the road, and things are starting to look better for Scott Parker's Fulham. Monday night saw the Cottagers' first league triumph of the campaign as they beat fellow strugglers West Brom. With the win, Fulham moved out of the relegation zone, letting Slaven Bilic's side replace them.

This result comes a week after a performance that warranted more than a defeat against Crystal Palace and couple of weeks after a promising showing away at Sheffield United, in which the two sides settled for a point each. Since then Fulham have grown in confidence and there seems to be real cohesion within the squad, as both goals against the Baggies came after sweeping moves.

In his post match interview, Parker didn't give too much away, but regarding the squad he said as quoted by the BBC: "We are definitely maturing and definitely improving. We got a result and it is brilliant but we have to keep moving forward."

Parker's side look like they are steadily advancing and look a lot more fluent when they play compared to their relegation season of 2018/19.

During the summer, the Fulham boss maintained the core of the squad with the likes of Tom Cairney and Bobby Reid and notably made the loan deals of Harrison Reed and Ivan Cavaleiro permanent. Loan deals for Ola Aina and World Cup winner Alphonse Areola were also completed. Fulham spent around £21.5m in the summer, compared to over £100m in the summer of 2018.

This shrewd approach to transfers and exploitation of the loan market have really encouraged the squad to gel quicker than the Fulham of 2018/19, and we are already seeing some stand outs.

Alphonse Areola started a bit shakily between the sticks at Craven Cottage but is rapidly looking like an obvious number one choice for Parker and provides a good platform upon which Fulham can build.

Ademola Lookman, on loan from RB Leipzig, has already made an impact. He impressed on his debut against Sheffield United, scoring a lovely goal at Bramall Lane. He has since continued to look sharp, while also showing discipline and defensive capabilities, making nine tackles in four appearances so far.

There is no doubt about Aleksandar Mitrovic's goalscoring capabilities, having notched 26 last year. With Fulham's increased fluidity throughout the team in recent games, we are beginning to see Mitrovic add to his game. The Serb assisted both goals on Monday, making it four goal contributions in seven games.

Frank Zambo Anguissa failed to impress in his first year at Fulham and spent last season on loan at Villarreal. However, he's come back stronger and has shone in midfield in recent games. He was crucial to the first goal against West Brom and looked commanding throughout the match. This man could be a huge component in Parker's safety push this year.

Of course, the real tests for Fulham are the so-called six-pointer games. They have so far played two of the teams in and around the bottom three and come away with four points.

The mentality of the squad looks much stronger than their last Premier League campaign, and the players look much more ready to compete with the teams battling for survival. A trait that, with the quality they have, could see them stay up come the end of May.

This is obviously a long way away, and there are many games to be played before then. However, for the time being they look much better off than the teams below them as Burnley and Sheffield United seem to ship too many goals while struggling to score, and West Brom, who they have crucially just beaten.

The Fulham players will face a real test of character in the coming month, with tough fixtures away at West Ham and Leicester either side of a home tie to Everton. With the faltering of the Hammers and the Toffees, there's no reason Parker can't go on and pick points up moving on from Monday's result.

Having shown what they're capable of recently, Parker's squad have definitely given a glimmer of hope to their fans. Before the season started there weren't many who would have given Fulham a chance, but based on recent performances Tony Kahn might not have to be so apologetic.

Offline whitejc

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Re: Thursday fulham Stuff - 05/11/20...
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2020, 08:26:04 AM »

Cottage Talk Post Match Show: Fulham Beat West Brom 2-0

Take a listen to a podcast that focuses on Fulham Football Club.

In this episode, Yannis and Max looked back at the 2-0 Fulham victory against West Brom. Later on in the show they had a discussion on Man Of The Match.

You can also listen to the show by following this link...

Offline whitejc

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Re: Thursday fulham Stuff - 05/11/20...
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2020, 08:27:15 AM »
West Ham injury update: Hammers star could be back for Fulham clash report claims

West Ham skipper Mark Noble could return to the fold for Saturday’s clash with Fulham according to a report from Football.London.

The 33-year-old missed last weekend’s clash with Liverpool with a slight knock.

But it seems as though he will be back for the London derby against Fulham. That’s according to Football.London.

Noble is not as important to the Hammers as he once was, one the pitch at least. He is still the most vocal leader at the London Stadium, however.

And because of that, the midfielder undoubtedly still has a very big role to play at West Ham.

David Moyes relies on Noble to be his on-field and off-field communicator and leader.

The 33-year-old has been with West Ham all his life, making his first-team debut in 2004. His powers are clearly waning, but there will definitely be games this season where he is needed.

Noble never had pace, so that’s not an issue, but his lack of mobility is a real concern. Perhaps the Canning Town born ace will mostly have to make do with a place on the bench this season.

And if he is fit to play on Saturday, it is highly likely that he will begin the game as a substitute.

Bringing Noble on with 20 minutes or so left to play wouldn’t be a bad idea in pretty much every game. His coolness and composure when in possession would be a real asset to West Ham whether we are winning or losing.

And maybe that is how Noble will see out his Hammers career.